You may have heard the term “uppers.” This is the street name for various drugs that are classified as “stimulants.” While types of stimulants vary, they all provide users with the same overall effect of increased energy and alertness levels. Some stimulants are relatively harmless in low doses, such as caffeine which is found in soda and coffee. There are some prescription medications that are stimulants, used for treatment of conditions such as ADHD, e.g., Adderall, and Ritalin. There are some stimulants that are not only illegal, but dangerous and highly addictive, such as cocaine, Ecstasy or amphetamines.
Common stimulants include:
- Ecstasy (MDMA)
Stimulant Use Symptoms
Stimulants target the central nervous system, increasing a person’s heart rate and breathing, and raising their blood pressure. A person may have more energy, be more talkative and alert, and have a decreased appetite. However, users may also develop symptoms such as restlessness, anxiousness, and moodiness.
Addiction To Stimulants
The reasons someone may become addicted to stimulants varies. For some people, they may take prescription stimulants to treat a condition, but if they don’t use the prescription correctly, or use too much, they can become addicted. People may start taking prescription stimulants without an actual prescription too — for example, some teenagers and college students take drugs like Adderall to enhance their focus and energy for school or performance in. Repeated use raises their risk of developing a stimulant dependence or becoming addicted to stimulants.
Then there are illegal stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamine (also known as meth), which people take for the explicit purpose of getting high. They may smoke, snort or inject the drug, and may become addicted within one or two uses.
With repeated use of stimulants, a person may develop a stimulant dependence or an addiction to stimulants. That means their bodies need the drug to function to do things like produce dopamine, as their brain stops production on its own. If they don’t take the drug, many people feel any of the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Depressed mood
- Psychomotor agitation
- Decreased attention
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased appetite
To feel better or even just normal, people take the drug again. But over time, the body develops a tolerance to the drug, which means a person has to take more and more just to feel the same effects. This can lead to long-term stimulant abuse and addiction, where a person’s entire life revolves around getting more of the drug.